UK town gears up for one of the largest Diwali celebrations
Over 40,000 people from across the UK and beyond are expected to congregate in the East Midlands town of Leicester over the weekend for the traditional lights switch-on ceremony as part of what is billed as one of the largest Diwali celebrations outside India.
Supported by the Leicester city council and other organisations, Diwali has become a mainstream festival in the town where a large number of Indian immigrants settled over the decades and went on to rejuvenate regional economy, culture and politics.
The spectacular lights switch-on ceremony will be held along Belgrave Road, the hub of Asian business and culture dotted with several Indian banks, jewellery shops, restaurants as well as shops offering merchandise sourced from India, UK and elsewhere.
Leicester’s deputy mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Piara Singh Clair, said: “Our world-famous Diwali celebrations are a Leicester tradition, bringing together our diverse communities to celebrate the Festival of Light”.
“As well as the Diwali Village, Wheel of Light and fireworks displays on both Diwali Day and for the lights switch-on, there will be lots of themed activities and events taking place throughout the city during the two weeks leading up to Diwali Day on October 27”.
The famous display of 6,000 Diwali lights will be switched on at 7.30 pm on Sunday, followed by a large firework display, accompanied by Indian songs and dance, besides a host of roaming street artists and a giant puppet parade.
The Leicestershire police encouraged people to celebrate safely. Chief superintendent Adam Streets said: “Diwali is a wonderful and special time for many in the city and beyond. It gives entire communities the chance to come together and celebrate as one”.
“Our officers will be on hand to support the event...please approach them if you have any safety concerns…Whilst this is an exciting celebratory occasion, it is vital that people celebrate safely, not only while at the event itself, but also before they leave their house.”
The two-week celebration begins with a stage programme of music and dance on Belgrave Road – also called the ‘Golden Mile’ – presented by the Leicester Hindu Festival Council and Leicester City Council, supported by Curve theatre and compered by Leicester Hindu Festival Council and BBC Radio Leicester.
Highlights include a colourful review of Curve’s recent community production of ‘Bollywood Jane’, inspired by the classic film ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’. There will also be a performance from award-winning musician Navin Kundra, organisers said.
Also on offer are sessions on ‘rangoli’, Indian arts and craft, ‘mehndi’ hand decorating, storytelling and an exhibition of Indian dance and costume, besides live entertainment and a Diwali Mela Bazar.